Community Coalition’s (CoCo) Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Gerri Lawrence as Chief Operating Officer. Most recently serving as Deputy Director of Advancement, Gerri has been the primary strategic architect of leading fundraising efforts for CoCo’s comprehensive development portfolio that includes public/private foundation grants, public contracts, and major donors to support overall organizational operations and sustainability. In her new role as Chief Operating Officer, Gerri will join the Executive Team—with Leslie Johnson, VP Organizational Development, Aurea Montes-Rodriquez, EVP and Alberto Retana, President and CEO—where she participates on the executive team to advance a robust policy agenda, direct operations, guide organization-wide strategic planning processes and launch key projects.
“I am truly thrilled to serve in this post. I remain inspired by CoCo’s commitment to developing and investing in Black and Brown leaders. I have seen it firsthand many times over, and am just proud to be a part of a legacy that works to help community and individuals lean into their inherent gifts and power.”
Since joining Community Coalition’s staff in 2011, Ms. Lawrence has supported multiple organizational growth initiatives, including leading critical aspects of its $6 million capital campaign to renovate CoCo’s headquarters. She also leveraged her creativity and talent as an artist to co-lead efforts to grow CoCo’s cultural organizing strategies (artivism—arts+activism) through the execution of arts programming and the creation of art pieces/installations. This includes serving as the lead artist for a community-driven collage commemorating the life of Trayvon Martin (2013) which was featured on the Calendar cover of the Los Angeles Times, and “Angels of the Movement” (2017). The powerful piece depicting Trayvon Martin drew national attention as a featured part of a dynamic exhibit housed at CoCo during the 25th Anniversary of the 1992 Civil Unrest.
“Here we are 30 years after the 1992 Unrest, grappling with the unforeseen impacts of the pandemic. We are seeing an astronomically widened wealth gap and unseen levels of unaffordability. Meanwhile, some folks are wondering why we see increased crime. Communities like South LA must shape the narrative so that the media doesn’t reduce what’s happening here to only a “law and order” conversation. And that we also remember the long-overdue investments needed in our community…safe communities are communities with the resources and support they need to thrive.”
Born in Los Angeles and raised in Pasadena, Gerri grew up with a voracious appetite for reading, creative writing, and the visual arts. She studied Art and Education at UCLA, and after graduation worked for both arts and educational non-profits. She unexpectedly found her niche for advocacy working for a decade alongside CoCo’s leadership and the South LA community to meaningfully contribute to moving the needle in South LA’s economic, social, and justice landscapes.
Fun Fact: Gerri goes by the same name as her dad, but isn’t a Jr.